A Year Later, Lyft Continues to Redline in Minneapolis

The StarTribune has an article today about Uber and Lyft drivers canceling a larger number of pickup requests among prospective passengers in North Minneapolis than in other parts of the city.

City business license manager Grant Wilson said city officials will pose as “secret shoppers” to test Uber and Lyft in underserved areas of the city.

Wilson made the decision after reviewing new information revealing that drivers for these ride-hailing services tend to prefer high-traffic and high-profit areas, like downtown, and are less likely to venture to north Minneapolis.

What’s particularly goofy about this is Minneapolis’ apparent willingness to allow Lyft to redline tens of thousands of North Minneapolis residents by not just reactively denying them service, but proactively doing so.

For example, here is what Lyft’s app looks like for people requesting a car from the 3400 block of Colfax Ave N:

2015-08-06 17.25.04

But, if I go to the 3700 block of Dupont (20 blocks south of the city’s border with Brooklyn Center) the cars disappear:

2015-08-06 17.24.57

That’s proactive refusal of service to city residents.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because I wrote about it last year in June. Nothing’s been done about it.

It doesn’t take secret shoppers to see this form of redlining. The problem is far larger than a particular driver denying a fare based on location. The entire service denies fares based on location.

Or, as Lyft puts it:

“If they are in our coverage area, we will do our best to supply rides,” said Danyelle Ludwig, a Lyft spokeswoman.

It’s not discrimination, you see. It’s a coverage area that just happens to not cover all Minneapolis residents. And, it’s not redlining, you see. They happen to use green lines:

Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.38.23

It doesn’t take secret shoppers to see how Lyft treats North Minneapolis residents. Their own coverage area map illustrates their discriminatory behavior.

Anther Justification for a Downtown Casino

Earlier this week, a guy from South Dakota escaped from prison, stole a car from a Pizza Hut delivery driver in Sioux Falls, pulled a gas & go in Lakeville, and robbed some banks in Minneapolis.

On the 13th, I made this comment via email to a friend about his crime pattern:

“He’s covering some ground. I’d check Mystic where he’s probably laundering the cash through slots.”

This morning, this happened:

A South Dakota prison escapee was caught early Wednesday at Mystic Lake Casino after piling up a slew of crimes since late Friday that included three bank jobs in the Twin Cities, an auto theft and other offenses, authorities said.

Why Mystic Lake? I don’t know about you, but when I land some cold cash of questionable origin, the first thing I want to do is launder it. And, what’s more convenient than anonymously bumping the questionable cash into slot machines, playing a few hands, then cashing out some fresh bills? You may even win something. Or, if not, you could count that as a laundering expense when you file taxes on your bank robbery earnings. (Disclosure: I’m not a CPA.)

We’ve heard this story before. Another high-profile example of this made the news last September:

Screenshot 2015-07-15 14.10.52

Thus the need for a downtown casino. Fugitives shouldn’t have to drive all the way to Shakopee to launder money1.. This causes wear and tear on our roads2., adds to congestion, air pollution, and ramps up the costs caused by multiple law enforcement departments getting pulled into investigations.

I don’t know if fugitives are better or worse drivers than average. Perhaps they’re extra attentive and law-abiding? Or, maybe they’re a bit distracted by the sudden lifestyle change? I just hope that they don’t draw attention to themselves by driving slow in the left lane.

Granted, fugitives aren’t your typical 9-5ers, so congestion alleviation may not be the biggest issue here. But, the downside of working odd hours is poor public transit options. It’s also a reverse commute (or the dreaded suburb to suburb commute), which are both difficult transit options. Uber’s obviously out of the question when you want your privacy respected.

The other upside is post-laundering entertainment. I’d rather see fugitives blowing some of their freshly laundered cash on highly taxed downtown entertainment. Put that laundered cash to work making up for the lack of fan support from Vikings and Timberwolves to cover infrastructure costs for their entertainment palaces.

Now, not every money launderer is a bank thief or murderer. Some are smaller time thieves who’d like to launder their money but don’t really want to make the drive all the way to Shakopee. Sure, they don’t get the same level of attention, but attention isn’t really what they’re seeking. Think about the benefits for these entrepreneurs. Less windshield time = more productivity.

Maximizing the full potential of our existing infrastructure is just good public policy.

1. Pro tip: Rob coins. Sure, they’re heavy, but are they marked? And, if you’re concerned about them being marked, Coinstar locations are a lot more convenient than casinos.

2. Fugitives really ought to consider hopping on Mystic Lake’s shuttle buses. Perhaps fugitives could form ad hoc mastermind groups to discuss laundering techniques while en route?

Longfellow Neighborhood Restaurants with WiFi Rankings

Food. Caffeine. Internet. The three tiers of sustainability and productivity. Today’s focus is on the third: internet.

Here’s my criteria.

If you’re a Longfellow business looking for a new customer who’s willing to put in some time at non-peak hours, here’s what I’m looking for. By the way, I’m not alone by any means. I often walk to Longfellow venues to meet up with other geeky neighbors with money to combine work with a little socializing.

I look for easy to access, fast, reliable internet. Making me fill out passwords and other authentication hoops hurts me without doing much to help you.

I look for reliability. Can I count on it actually working? If I’m at your venue and the WiFi drops, I can use my phone to create an internet connection, but that’s a switch from using a pipe you’ve already paid for to using ridiculously expensive bandwidth (and cell phone battery).

Here’s my current Top-10:

  1. Fireroast Cafe – Has a password but rarely changes it. Never lost a connection.
  2. Longfellow Grill – Not as fast as Fireroast Cafe, but reliable. If the owner didn’t actively campaign against minimum wages for their employees, that would help, but it still wouldn’t be as good as Fireroast Cafe.
  3. Merlin’s Rest – Easy to use. Reliable. No complaints.
  4. Rail Station – Requires a login, but it’s fairly simple after the first use. Not quite as simple as Peace Coffee, but the internet is really good since I tend to be the only person using it.
  5. Peace Coffee – Reliable. I have to login every time I go there on both my computer and phone.
  6. Dunn Bros – password changes every day. Total pain to login every day on both my computer and phone. So I don’t.
  7. Blue Door Pub – open network. But, it drops from time to time. I’ll take logging in from time to time over that.
  8. Zeke’s Unchained Animal – Easy to access. Not nearly as reliable as it should be. Perhaps a better WiFi router would solve that problem?
  9. Sonora Grill – Wifi is pretty good, but my phone won’t connect to it. That being said, there were some changes being done to the WiFi the last time I was in there, so this is the business – I’d predict – with the biggest opportunity for improvement.
  10. Dogwood – Same as Blue Door but more often.

Keep in mind that this is just looking at WiFi ease of access and reliability. If you measure these same 10 venues based on not using your computer or looking at your phone, the list changes dramatically.

If I’m missing places worthy of top-10 rankings, or you disagree with my analysis, please chime in. We’re on the same side of this issue.

Math Only a Corporate #wilfare Queen Could Believe @mnunitedfc

I was hoping that MN United would somehow be different than every other professional sports franchise in our local market, but then I read stuff like this:

We will pay our fair share of tax. The entertainment/sales/food/beverage taxes the facility generates will be 5x current tax. @edkohler

If you’re a business or resident in Minneapolis and you buy a property and improve it, you’re expected to pay property taxes. That’s the deal. It’s really quite simple. But, MN United seems to think that they deserve to redefine “fairness” based on sales tax generation.

It’s as if pro sports are the only industry that competes for entertainment dollars and generates sales taxes. Why should they be subsidized while local restaurants aren’t? If we were going to subsidize an entertainment business, how about subsidizing ones that are open more than 17 days per year?

But, the bigger issue with MN United’s claims is the math. It’s the kind of math only people who mistakenly trust pro sports franchise owners can believe.

Here’s the problem with their sales tax math. It assumes that every single dollar of sales taxes generates at the soccer stadium would not have been generated anywhere else in the entire state of Minnesota if there wasn’t a publicly subsidized pro sports stadium.

It’s an utterly preposterous assumption. Put another way, they’re lying. And, people who mistakenly trust MN United’s statements are falling for it:

@edkohler @_NickRogers_ Ed, if you didn't pay property tax, would your provide 5x those taxes in sales tax? Your analogy seems flawed.

People blindly trust pro sports owners that are in the business of subsidizing their businesses rather than competing fairly for entertainment dollars in the private market.

But, what makes this situation particularly interesting is that even loyal MN United fans seem to be embarrassed by the requests to shift property tax burdens onto homeowners and local business in order to further enrich some of MN’s richest residents. This is my assumption based on the lack of response to questions like this:

@lockstockspock I noticed that you ignored this tweet, which makes me wonder why you're so concerned about handouts:

Let’s try being honest. MN United doesn’t need subsidies. The team will be here. A stadium will be built. And Minneapolis will benefit from hosting a new local business while expanding its property tax base. That’s what fairness looks like.

@mngop Math: Light Rail Fare Edition

David Montgomery with the Pioneer Press has an article about a recent audit of fare skipping by light rail riders:

A recent audit conducted by the Met Council found around 3 percent of Blue Line riders and between 4.6 and 9 percent of Green Line riders were evading their fares. That adds up to between $800,000 and $1.5 million per year in lost money.

This created some outrage from a MN GOP rep:

Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin, said during a Monday transportation bill discussion in a House committee meeting. “We have $1.5 million in taxpayers’ money that we’re being cheated out of.”

Let’s go with the absolute high end figure Rep. Uglem latched onto. I’m 100% confident that no level of fare enforcement or implementation of more rigid boarding systems would bring in anywhere near that kind of money.

The fallacy in his statement is assuming that every fare not collected actually would still exist under more rigid boarding/enforcement scenarios. It’s the same mistake the MPAA makes when they claim that every illegally downloaded movie should be treated as a lost DVD sale.

In the reality based community, it might be worth considering whether those fare skippers would have still taken the LRT if they had to pay the fare. I’m willing to be that a significant portion of them would not, because they likely have little to no money. But, they still need to get to work, visit their family, or get to the grocery store.

So, we could dump a whole bunch of money into attempting to increase revenue generated from the LRT’s poorest riders.

In the end, Rep. Uglem could proudly state that he helped kick poor people off the trains. But, there’s little chance that he’d see the uptick of $1.5 million in annual revenue he claims can be recovered. A good example of why can be found in the same article:

The fare-dodging audit said that all mass transit systems, even those with turnstiles, saw at least 2 percent to 3 percent of riders avoid paying their fares.

If we take the average of the Blue and Green line fare skippers (6.8%), and put that up against the reality that people will skip fares even if expensive turnstiles are installed, it becomes pretty clear that the potential savings – even before reality checking that many people would simply stop riding – could be more like $235k – $440k/year.

The article also mentions:

Once installed, turnstiles would cost about $1.3 million per year to operate, he said.

Even ignoring the huge costs of retrofitting LRT stops to make life harder for poor people and less convenient for all transit riders, this seems like a colossal waste of money.

If the goal was to invest taxpayer money into increasing the amount of money generated by light rail trains, there is probably a much better options such as increasing frequency. This would likely increase ridership among those who can and do pay.

Or – I know this is going to sound crazy, but we already do it for airline travelers – how about making the LRT free? We could save a ton of money on turnstiles and enforcement.

But, I suppose that’s less interesting to a Rep from Champlain than picking on poor urban people.

Adam Heskin: One of The Pioneer Press’ Racist Commenters

The Pioneer Press posted an Associated Press article about a group of Somali immigrants who’re dealing with discrimination and bullying. They claim that they’re being treated unfairly by fellow students and staff and, based on the original piece in the St Cloud Times, they’re right.

One of the parents involved in the protest, Sadwda Ali, said similar issues exist at South Junior High. Sadwda Ali said students there have taunted her 11-year-old daughter for wearing a hijab and spat in her face.

Sadwda Ali said she’s particularly disheartened to hear about students trying to link Somalis with the Islamic State group.

“They think that all Somalis and all Muslims are terrorists,” Sadwda Ali said. “That’s totally wrong. Our religion is peace.”

Here’s what Pioneer Press Commenter, Adam Heskin, had to say about this:

adamh2o: Is that all liberals know how to do anymore? Protest this, protest that, who cares if it even makes sense, scream and yell about it.

Adam Heskin Racist
Adam Heskin – Racist Commenter*

I’m not sure if it takes work to willfully ignore the concerns of protestors, or if racists like Adam Heskin save time by jumping straight from headlines to the comment box.

Heskin goes on:

Somali’s should be thankful we even let their Muslim terrorist a$$es into this country.

Adam Heskin - One of the Pioneer Press' Bigot Commenters
Adam Heskin – Pioneer Press Bigot

It looks like the “Heskin” surname is English. It’s really unbelievable that we allow English people into this country considering how much blood is on their hands.

Heskin goes on to explain that recent immigrants from a war torn country are a menace to society.

Get everything off the government dole, work for nothing, send money back to your terrorist families and yet you still whine and cry every chance you get.

Adam Heskin - Not a Fan of Today's Immigrants
Adam Heskin – Not a Fan of Today’s Immigrants

But, that was just a warm-up up for his big bigoted close:

Filthy animals should be grateful you aren’t put on the first plane out like you should be.

Adam Heskin can be found on Twitter @adam_heskin and Facebook adam.heskin.3 and as a racist commenter on many platforms that use the Disqus commenting platform as @adamh2o.

For those of you thinking “There’s no way that comment was actually published to the website of the second largest newspaper website in the State of Minnesota, here’s a screenshot of the article and comment with ads for Cub Foods and the Parade of Homes.

Screenshot 2015-03-19 09.33.19

* I figured that it was important to include pictures of the racist Adam Heskin in order to make it clear which Adam Heskin is the racist commenter on the Pioneer Press’ website. Personally, I find most people named Adam Heskin to be peaceful individuals who’re doing the best they can for themselves and their families during their stay on this planet. To suggest that all Adam Heskins are racist web commenters would be a broad generalization that tarnishes the reputations of the vast majority of Adam Heskins and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.

Minneapolis MLS Stadium Location: The Stripper Perspective

Word on the street is that Major League Soccer wants to enter the Twin Cities sports market with an expansion team.

Some analysis has been done in the past showing that the Twin Cities are already over-saturated with pro sports entertainment options while attempting to support an NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL team, but that doesn’t really matter because it’s a private business using private money to take private risks. Right? Right?

While mainstream media companies tend to talk about the success the only bar near the Hennepin County Medical Center, Hubert’s, when discussing the economic impact of sports, I contracted with an anonymous reporter to take the temperature of a different ancillary industry: strippers. Here’s what she found out (all names were changed to protect the identities of the strippers*):


Are you busier on game nights?

Merlot (Dreamgirls) [Other job: Cashier]: Totally. You can tell when Twins games must have ended. Or, maybe it’s just a because it’s boring game or their losing again? Either way, it fills up with guys in Twins stuff on game nights.

Which sport has the best fans?

Meredith (Seville) [Other job: Part time pre-med]: It depends what you mean by best. If you mean most respectful of the dancers, Twins fans. They bring a subdued attitude and appreciate what we do for them. If you mean people ready to party, then it’s Twolves fans. They’re up for partying to forget.

What are Vikings fans like?

Amber (Rick’s) [Other job: Sophomore, Elementary Ed.]: First, there’s the Saturday night crowd. They tend to be from the Dakotas and are really grabby. It’s like they’ve never seen a tit other than their mom’s before. They show up drunk, don’t tip well, and hardly ever offer to buy me a drink. A lot of them get kicked out.

Then there’s Sundays. It takes guys a bit to get adjusted since they’re stepping inside from the daylight. There are some big spenders. Especially guys in town on business trips. But, there are also ridiculously drunk tailgaters who can barely walk. I kind of feel sad giving lap dances to guys in AP jerseys with whiskey dicks, but if you knew what I owed in student loans it would make sense.

What are Wild fans like?

Elsa (Lamplighter Lounge) [Other job: Taco Bell Drive Thru]: We don’t see a lot of Wild fans in here, but we’re not exactly downtown St Paul. But, maybe they have brain damage or something?

What do you think of the Twin Cities getting an MLS team?

Victoria (Deja Vu) [Other job: craft brewer]: I think soccer players are hot. They have awesome abs and are in really good shape. I’d love it if they came in here.

There is speculation that a soccer stadium may be built near the Twins stadium. How would that effect your career?

Dominique (Downtown Cabaret) [Other job: Uber driver]: How many games do they play?

34, not including playoffs, so 17 home games.

Dominique: That’s like three times the Vikings.

Closer to 2 times.

Dominique: Still. How many do the other teams play?

The Twins play 81 home games and the Timberwolves play 41, not counting pre-season and . . . playoff games.

Dominique: You know, I been thinking about getting closer to the warehouse district for some time now. There’s something going on over there like half the year.

It’s closer to a third.

Dominique: Still, that’s way better than eight weekends with the Vikings plus the Monster Truck show.


While it may be too early to have a strong opinion about this, it sounds like this particular ancillary industry favors clustering sports venues on the entertainment district side of downtown.

* The questions, other jobs, and answers were made up too.

Glen Taylor’s StarTribune: Crunching Minneapolis’ False Alarm Costs

Imagine how you’d feel if you figured out a way to save 26% of the time your employees spend dealing with worthless stuff only to read an article claiming that you’re being wasteful. Here’s an example of Glen Taylor’s StarTribune reporting on the Minneapolis Police Department’s handling of false alarm responses at businesses in the city.

Alejandra Matos has an article in the StarTribune about the Minneapolis’ costs of dealing with false alarms at businesses. It contains incredibly poorly supported comparisons of costs to Minneapolis’ neighbor. Is this an example of the Glen Taylor ownership era at the StarTribune? Misleading people to justify cutting government costs seems pretty GOP to me.

Matos provides background on Minneapolis’ false alarm response costs:

[Minneapolis] used to give alarm users two free false alarms in a year and charge $200 for the third, with each additional alarm costing an additional $100. But heavier fees were implemented in 2007 after the city estimated it was spending more than $800,000 to respond to them. In 2006, police responded to 15,600 false alarms.

The article seems to suggest that Minneapolis’ false alarm fees are ridiculous, while St Paul’s are far more fair because they’re cheaper for businesses that waste extraordinarily large amounts of police time (yes, you read that right).

It looks like Minneapolis spent $800,000 responding to 15,600 false alarms at businesses operating in the city in 2006.

If I divide $800k by 15,600, I come up with an average false alarm response cost of $51.28. The problem the city appears to have been trying to address wasn’t that it spent $800k on false alarms. The problem is that the costs of dealing with false alarms exceeded the costs businesses generating them were paying. This isn’t a gross cost issue. It’s a rate problem that the StarTribune didn’t explain.

The article continues:

When an alarm is triggered, the alarm company must try calling the key holder, often the home or business owner, twice before they ask for police response. If that person can’t be reached, the police usually send two squad cars to respond to the alarm. If the officers find nothing wrong, they can designate a false alarm.

Is it just me, or do these numbers seem extraordinarily reasonable? What does it cost to have a plumber or Geek Squad show up at your house? The last time I called a plumber for an emergency it was a lot more than $51.28 with a 12 hour response time. The last time I called Geek Squad, the costs were more than double that, and that was well before 2006. Yet, Minneapolis sends TWO squad cars with at least two cops to address an active alarm and the cost is less than $26/person? I’m pretty sure that the cost per hour per police officer is at least $50/hour after equipment, training, and benefits, so these cops are somehow responding to alarms and writing up their cases in under 30 minutes? That seems unlikely.

The article mentions that the cost of clerical processing of an alarm statement alone can be $27. Yet we can send multiple cars with fully equipped, trained officers for less than $26 per cop per call?

To me, based on the information presented in this article, it sounds like Minneapolis was severely underestimating the cost of responding to alarms in 2006.

I would like compare the $800k figure to what Minneapolis is bringing in on average now after updating their fee structure, but the StarTribune didn’t provide that information. The article does mention that response calls have dropped:

False alarms have dropped 24 percent in the six years since the stiffer penalties were put in place. Although city officials say they are pleased by that, local business owners are not.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but a 24% drop in false alarms sounds like a $206,000 savings in otherwise wasted police time based on the reported 2006 false alarm response cost figure. You may have a hard time finding that $206,000 savings in the StarTribune’s column because it’s not mentioned.

Matos many paragraphs explaining that fees have gone up in Minneapolis while they’re cheaper in St Paul (under certain circumstances if you read closely enough).

Matos offered an explanation of St Paul’s system:

St. Paul requires all alarm users to purchase a yearly permit for $27.

Ricardo Cervantes, director of St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections, says this system anticipates that alarm users will have at least one mishap. St. Paul gives residents and business owners two free false alarms, then charges $35 for the third. Adding all the fees together in one year, a seventh false alarm will cost a user $427. In Minneapolis, the cumulative cost would be $2,130.

Matos didn’t explain how much St Paul brings in through those yearly permits, how that compares to Minneapolis, and how that breaks down on a per-false alarm basis. And, she didn’t offer any quotes from business owners in St Paul who has to pay a yearly fee of $27 even when they have no false alarms.

What did we learn from this article? Nothing. To learn something we’d need comparisons of 2006 numbers vs 2014 in Minneapolis. Or Minneapolis’ numbers vs. St Paul’s. Since no actual, honest, relative comparison was presented, I can only assume that the goal was to sell a bias for Glen Taylor that’s not supported by the numbers.

Basically, her editor – assuming their was one – wasted the StarTribune’s reader’s time with a handful of non-apples to apples comparisons that give the perception that Minneapolis’ fees are outrageous compared to St Paul’s without actually proving that point. Was misleading readers the editorial goal of Glen Taylor’s StarTribune with this article? The StarTribune was better than this article.

Lyft and UberX Receiving Permission to Legally Discriminate

If you don’t own a smartphone in Minneapolis, keep an eye out for pink mustaches on cars. Those cars are driven by people who will soon be able to legally discriminate against you. No matter how much you want or need a ride, they won’t be allowed to pick you up:

Despite a push for one ordinance to cover both industries, the final language delineates clear differences. Only taxis can pick up passengers who hail them on the street…

Here’s a breakdown of smartphone ownership rates from Pew:

Pew Research on Smartphone Demographics

Lyft and UberX have amazingly good lobbyists. They’re managing to legally deny service to poor and poorly educated people.

Critics of the proposal said that Lyft and Uber, now known as “transportation network companies,” will . . . discriminate against certain passengers.

Like, the majority of people making less than $30k/year.

The proposal’s sponsor, Jacob Frey, countered that the city will audit where the companies have been accepting and denying rides. Plus, he noted, taxis are already discriminating.

This sounds like a great deal for Lyft and UberX. They can’t be accused of denying rides from the majority of people making under $30k/yr because they’re not capable of requesting rides since they don’t have smartphones.

“As a cab driver, I cannot raise my rates,” said driver Fred Anderson. “And I’m obligated to take all customers unlike [transportation network companies]. This is not a level playing field.”

Sounds like Fred Anderson and his fellow drivers need UberX and Lyft’s deep pockets in order to hire better lobbyists so they can discriminate too. Or, UberX and Lyft could be held to the taxi standards and already exist.

The city will impose a license fee of $35,000 a year on transportation network companies, and another $10,000 as a surcharge if they do not have handicap-accessible vehicles.

Here’s a breakdown of the licensing costs for traditional taxis in Minneapolis:

Minneapolis Taxi Licenses

As I read that, it sounds like the annual licensing costs for a taxi include:
$59 taxi drivers license renewal
$475 per vehicle
$135 per inspection
____________
$669 per year total

Assuming Lyft or UberX have more than 52 drivers, the differences in licensing costs appears to be another example of the advantage of having good lobbyists on your well-funded side.

Listen up, Poors. If you want access to all forms of government regulated transportation in our world-class city, you’re going to need a smartphone with a data plan. We’re not discriminating. That’s just the way it is because world-class cities welcome innovators.

LRT Speeds Vary by Station Pairs

Is the new Green Line slow? Well, that depends. Where did you start and where did you end?

Bob Collins has a post up on Newscut about his decision to NOT take the Green Line from the 10th Street Station in St Paul (the 2nd stop on the line heading west) to a Twins game (the last two stops on the Blue Line). With four in the car on the 4th of July when there is hardly any traffic between cities, that’s a really easy choice.

Talking about time time it takes to traverse the entire LRT line seems overblown to me since that use case is so limited. Are there really that many people who live at or east of Union Depot in St Paul who want to get to Target Field or points north? I’m sure it happens, but must be a small fraction of all rides, assuming other 22 stations have any popularity at all.

To illustrate this, I used MapMyRun.com to trace out quick estimates of distances between each station on the Green Line and divides them by the scheduled time for a westbound train (weekday, arriving before 9am) to get a feel for how fast the train moves throughout its route. This isn’t a measure of max speed, but average speed between stations:

Average Green Line LRT Speeds between Stations

What this tells me is you’ll experience diminishing returns on commute speeds when you’re in the downtown core of either city. This makes sense. We see the same thing any vehicle operating at street level.

The easiest way to shave 17 minutes of the commute between downtowns (and increase the train’s speed by nearly 50%) is to define the commute between downtowns as when one leaves the first and arrives at the second (Robert St Station in St Paul to Downtown East in Minneapolis).

This is even more pronounced on the Blue Line, which has higher speeds between stations outside of downtown:

Average Blue Line LRT Speeds between Stations

Putting the station speeds of the Green and Blue lines on the same chart helps illustrate how much faster the Blue Line is over most of its route compared to the Green Line. (Northbound Blue vs Westbound Green with the same set of stops once they merge in downtown Minneapolis).

Green vs Blue Line Average Speeds by Station

Personally, when I travel on an LRT to downtown Minneapolis, I hop off at “one of the state’s largest corporate welfare projects off all time station”, then hop on a NiceRide for the rest of my trip. That’s much faster than the 6 MPH average speed (10MPH) of either train through downtown. For example, I can NiceRide to Brit’s far faster from Downtown East than taking the train to Nicollet then walking or NiceRiding from there. Google Maps seems to agree with me on this. They estimate 16 minutes for LRT to Nicollet followed by walking:

LRT from Metrodome to Brit's

Compared to 8 minutes biking:

Biking from Metrodome to Brit's

But, the bigger takeaway to me is that trains are painfully slow in downtown cores when they’re built at street level. If they’re above or below ground, they don’t have to compete with everything else going on at street level, which is better for everyone. At this point, I suppose we’re stuck with the decisions we’ve made for the next generation or two. Longer term, perhaps we’ll straighten things out?

And, if I was going to park and ride to Twins or Saints games from the suburbs, I’d probably hop off the Cretin/Vandalia exit of I-94 and ditch my car near The Dubliner. That combined free parking, cutting the LRT trip in half, and provides a cool spot to drown postgame sorrows. That neighborhood is also home to some new craft brewpubs worth checking out, including Bang Brewing. Strategery.